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Quest for Quintana Roo (Sunrise Software/Telegames)

DoctorSpuds

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Sunrise was a blip on the radar of the 2600 library, they appeared, released a single game, and vanished, just like that. Even though they only released a single 2600 game it doesn’t mean they didn’t release others on different systems. They released a few games for the Colecovision, and released ports for their main game Quest for Quintana Roo for several major consoles and home computers of the time, including the Atari 8-bit line and the Colecovision. Sunrise was also responsible for the Colecovision port of Mountain King. Sunrise did have another 2600 game in the works but they never released it, it was later sold by Telegames as Glacier Patrol, and is one of the more sought after oddball titles on the system, it was also programmed by our old buddy Ed Salvo who programmed Skeet Shoot. It seems Sunrise picked an unfortunate time to begin publishing games, since 1984 wasn’t a very good year for game publishers, even the behemoths like Atari and Activision weren’t in a very good place, and a small company like Sunrise stood no chance in the market. I unfortunately can find very little information about Sunrise apart from what games they released, but even then that information is spotty at best, not even MobyGames has a complete list of all their games, and Atarimania has another game by the name of Snowplow listed but there are no screenshots or dumped roms, and is only corroborated by hearsay. They don’t even have a Wikipedia page, which is rather shocking to say the least. With my recent acquisition of QQR I feel that the time is right to finally get this behemoth of a game off the docket, and believe me I’ve been exited for this game for a long time, let’s take a good look at Quest for Quintana Roo for the Atari 2600 by the phantom company Sunrise Software, INC.

 

QQR is a gorgeous looking game, and it’s very rare when I get to say that, especially with a 2600 game. The graphical quality is at least on par with the Intellivision, and even then I think it looks better than several INTV games. When you start the game you’ll be presented with a front-on view of an ancient Mayan or Aztec pyramid that takes up a majority of the screen, it is well detailed and colorful. The detail even extends to having other pyramids peeking from the dense jungle in the background; also the pyramid is crawling with snakes. The details on the interior are quite impressive as well, with a large complex pattern on the back wall that looks like giant bricks. Having the doorways not be simple rectangles and actually having an arch at the top is a nice touch as well. The Items you’ll be finding are simplistic in design but are serviceable. You’ll be finding large red and blue diamonds, harps, red phials of acid, and squares that are called map stones. You’ll also see green rectangles lying about in the rooms of the pyramid; these are magic herbs that will be useful later. The rooms do become rather repetitive with nothing to distinguish one room from any of the other 15-20 rooms in the pyramid, and when you’re trying to find a certain item, especially when you’re on a time constraint, things can become a bit frustrating, or just plain boring to look at.

 

This game is the quintessential ‘Beeps and Boops’ type game that the 2600 is known for. All of the sounds are just basic white noise effects spliced with a few farts from the sound chip. The only thing that stands out is the sound of throwing acid phials which is only vaguely melodic, but you really won’t be throwing them very often. Sadly with the lack of sounds much of the game is played in complete silence which, for me at least, is something I cannot stand, there are no background noises or even walking sound effects and it really leads to boredom and fatigue on my part since this is not a short game.

 

On the outset it may seem that QQR is a very complicated game, but it is in fact very simple, to a point. All you have to do is climb up the pyramid, and on every level (highlighted in a darker brown) there are a series of rooms, you can enter them by holding down the button. All you have to do in these rooms are find the secret doors, which is easier done than said. This game uses the game select switch not to select games, but to select what Panama Joe (or whatever he’s called) is holding in his hand, this is represented by him changing color. When Joe is blue he’s holding his gun, and can now shoot snakes, when he’s red he’s holding phials of acid and can now dispose of shambling mummies , and when he’s green he is holding his chisel. This might as well be a game starring Kermit the Frog since you spend much of it being green. The chisel is used to discover hidden doors and treasures, simply walk up to the back wall and start chiseling away, there is a specific invisible spot that must be chiseled and when it is the door will open revealing the treasures inside. Most of the treasures are worth points, but some of them are far more useful, you can find more phials of acid or even map stones, which are necessary to beating the game. A map stone is just a little colored square that when picked up make Joe turn a worrying shade of yellow, this is where the most obnoxious part of the game sets in. Joe can only hold one thing in his hand at a time, so when he’s holding a map stone it will be dropped if he selects his gun, acid, or chisel so for every subsequent room when you have a map stone you will have to drop it and then pick it up, wasting time. You have to bring all five map stones to the vault located in one of the topmost chambers; it looks like a bowling ball. There are three holes in the vault for three of the stones, but you’ll have five stones, two of them are fake, you have to place the stones in a specific order in the vault, and I honestly have no idea how to do that. The manual that came with the game said something about positioning Joe’s nose beneath the holes but I’ve never gotten it to work for me. If you put a stone in the wrong hole they will disappear and be randomly placed back in the chambers forcing you to go back through all of them again to reacquire all of the stones once more and try again. You will be faced with three perils on your journey towards overwhelming boredom, snakes, mummies, and suffocation. You don’t have to worry about suffocation, you’re given 90 very long seconds to go through a level’s chambers, but even with procrastination and extreme snake avoidance I never had any trouble with it. Snakes are annoying, they won’t kill you outright, they’ll simply poison you which gives you 60 very long seconds to find some magic herbs to cure yourself, you can shoot them with your gun. Mummies will kill you outright, they will be hiding behind the secret doors, and if you’re unfortunate enough to have a secret switch right on a door with a mummy behind it you’ll lose a life, mummies are killed with acid. The exterior of the pyramid is not a safe haven as it is crawling with snakes that will poison you and toss you back to the bottom of the pyramid, you will also have to deal with the Moon God’s Wrath, which is just a dot that flies down the sides of the pyramid every so often and will toss you back to the bottom of the pyramid.

 

Despite its complexities Quest for Quintana Roo gets boring very quickly. It’s a combination of samey graphics paired with repetitive gameplay rife with backtracking, and the only payoff being another more difficult run. I wish the programmers went the Xonox route and programmed an actual ending into the game, with maybe a cutscene or just a musical jingle, and just put in some more difficult gameplay variations instead of having to go through the easy mode which could take you up to 15-20 minutes just to progress to level two. And all that happens in subsequent modes are increased amounts of mummies and faster enemies overall, which could have been easily implemented with the difficulty switches that aren’t used at all. The game’s fun for a while but in the long run you’re probably gonna have more fun with a game like Adventure or even Dark Chambers than with Quest for Quintana Roo. It’s Collector’s Zone for this puppy. I hate to tack it onto the end but I need to do the pricing info, depending on which version you’re buying, Sunrise or Telegames, the prices differ greatly. Loose Sunrise versions are currently listed at 25-75 dollars with no boxed copies in sight. There aren’t any loose Telegames versions on Ebay right now but I got mine for $11 and boxed copies are sitting at 30-50 dollars a pop. Again, don’t bother even trying to buy this game unless it’s in the price range I got mine for, 10-15 dollars, otherwise you’re simply overpaying for a polished turd.

 

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